Up to Your Waist in Hippo


“Did you hear about the hippo?” That was the first thing I heard on the other end of the phone as I cautiously answered a number from a weird area code. Sure enough, it was my boyfriend dialing in from Germany, all excited about a story he had just read online. My natural response to such a random inquiry was, “No, what happened?” He recounted a marvelous survival story of a man who had apparently been swallowed from the waist up.

“I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry,” the survivor explained. “I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.”

I mean, the guy barely survived and now has hands down the best dinner story ever. The reality was that as my boyfriend shared this rather bizarre and unfortunate story, I couldn’t help but feel the guy’s pain. OK, maybe I wasn’t literally in the mouth of a hippo, but sometimes I kind of feel like I am. Is that a weird thing to admit? I’m talking about those days where nothing seems to go right. Like the other day when after being on hold for 45 minutes with my insurance company, they hung up on me, two of my conference calls were canceled minutes before, I desperately needed to make a run to the grocery store which left me hungry as well as short-tempered and to add insult to injury, I stubbed my toe that morning and it was still throbbing as a reminder of my carelessness. It was a metaphorical death by paper cuts, if you know what I mean.

Later on I was just sitting at my house, stomping on my computer with angry fingers hoping that my Mac might grant me the sympathy I wasn’t getting from anyone else. For the record, she offered me none. But that’s when it dawned on me that sometimes life feels like a huge hippo that has swallowed us form the waste up and it sucks. The times where it feels like nothing is going right, everything is hard and your noggin is sore from hitting it in the exact same spot on the exact same wall over and over and over again. The good news embedded in this seemingly dismal blog is that there is hope at the end of our hippo-eating story and it’s that homeboy survived and so will we.

So, here is my encouragement to you and to myself for that matter. Sometimes we get chomped on by life, it stuffs us down its dark, slimy throat and in that moment, we have an opportunity to get a bit of perspective. That way, when it opens its mouth up again and spits us out, we get to dust off and get back out there. So whether you’re in a hippo’s mouth, recently out of one or far from a hippo pond altogether, remember that the pain, frustration, disappointment, failure and heartbreak is fleeting. My mom’s advice remains true that, “This too will pass.” My advice in the meantime, though, is to sing at the top of your lungs and make the best of your sticky circumstances. Because it’s not about if we get swallowed, it’s about when and for the record, you too will live to tell the tale.

Image courtesy of Bridgesfrombamako.com


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